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Sabina Nessa’s teacher colleagues are ‘consumed with grief’ while ‘putting on a brave face’

Teachers at the primary school where Sabina Nessa work are said to be ‘consumed with grief’ but are putting on a brave face to support the pupils that were taught by the teacher.

Ms Nessa, 28, originally from Bedfordshire, disappeared on September 17 as she left home to meet a man for a first date at a local pub. 

Police understand she was attacked in a park at around 8.30pm, with her body being discovered by a member of the public almost 24 hours later near the OneSpace community centre hidden under a pile of leaves. 

Detectives are urgently appealing for information about a mystery man who was captured on CCTV in Pegler Square, south east London, on the night Sabina, 28, was attacked.

Amid fears that the prime suspect in the alleged murder is still at large, the Victims’ Commissioner urged the police to do more to make streets safe for women, after the Met Police insisted that the area is still ‘safe for women’. 

Teachers at Rushey Green Primary School in Catford, where Ms Nessa worked, said they are ‘consumed by grief’ following their colleagues death, but said they are putting on a ‘brave face’ for their students. 

One teacher at the school, who did not wish to be named, said it was awful to think that the ‘kind and dedicated’ teacher had ‘suffered in the most violent way’ and said the staff are all rallying around to support each other.

They told South London Press: ‘No one and nothing can prepare you for this – the first anyone knew was when we arrived at school on Monday morning.

Sabina Nessa, 28, originally from Bedfordshire, disappeared on September 17 as she left home to meet a man for a first date at a local pub and her body was found the following afternoon

Teachers at Rushey Green Primary School in Catford, where Ms Nessa (pictured) worked, said they are 'consumed by grief' following their colleagues death

Teachers at Rushey Green Primary School in Catford, where Ms Nessa (pictured) worked, said they are ‘consumed by grief’ following their colleagues death

‘It is awful enough when someone dies. This is so much worse. It is impossible to even comprehend – that she suffered in the most violent way. We were sitting beside her on Friday – then this.

‘The Year Two pupils, who she had last year in Year One, will be the most upset – and their parents.

‘Everyone is supporting each other. But it is hard for teachers to reassure children who are nervous about being at school for the first time – while they are themselves putting on a brave face while consumed with grief themselves.’

Ms Nessa had just taken on a new Year One class for the start of term at the school, which has 600 pupils and around 70 staff.

Lisa Williams, headteacher of the school, has spoken to classes individually with educational psychologists also offering help.

Speaking of her ‘devastation’ after Ms Nessa’s death, she told Sky News: ‘She was a brilliant teacher; she was kind, caring and absolutely dedicated to her pupils. 

‘She had so much life ahead of her and so much more to give and her loss is desperately sad.

‘As a school we are supporting each other through this very difficult time.’

Ms Nessa was a member of the National Education Union’s Lewisham branch, which held a minute’s silence at a meeting on Wednesday night and has written to the school.

Branch secretary Duncan Morrison told the South London Press: ‘Staff would be given the opportunity to reflect and spend time thinking about Sabina. We would always try to listen – the last thing people in shock or grief want is to be told what to do.

Meanwhile, a vigil took place in Peglar Square, near to where Sabina's body was found, at 7pm on Friday. Pictured: Jebina Nessa pays tribute to her sister during the vigil

Meanwhile, a vigil took place in Peglar Square, near to where Sabina’s body was found, at 7pm on Friday. Pictured: Jebina Nessa pays tribute to her sister during the vigil

‘It is hard even for an adult to comprehend what seems to be the senseless murder of a young woman. Her pupils are so young, which makes it all the more difficult. It is hard even to explain to the oldest children at a primary school.

‘She was only just starting to build relationships with the new Year One children. The class which will experience it most will be those she taught last year. She had a strong relationship with them.

‘The crucial thing is to give them space to feel what they are feeling. But at that age, they have limited language to express it. We would say it is OK to cry and share your feelings – but if they do not want to, that’s fine too. It is a terrible thing to deal with.’

Meanwhile, the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales has urged police to do more to make the streets safer for women. 

Furious campaigners and a handful of MPs have demanded that public spaces be made safer for women in the wake of a string of high-profile murders this year.

Parallels are being drawn to the horrific murder of 33-year-old marketing executive Sarah Everard in March, amid fresh fury that women could not walk through Britain’s streets alone without fearing for their lives. 

Detective Chief Superintendent Trevor Lawry insisted the area remains ‘safe for women’ despite mounting pressure from women’s safety campaigners who are urging officers to do more to protect them on Britain’s streets. 

But Dame Vera Baird, who attended a vigil to the murdered 28-year-old in Wood Green, north London, on Friday, argued there needs to be more onus on police to protect the public than on women to take precautions.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Apparently the police have been giving out rape alarms to women and giving leaflets out saying how to stay safe in a public place.

‘It is less, isn’t it, about giving women leaflets on keeping themselves safe in dangerous places and more about the police making the streets safe for women?’

When it was put to her that there needed to be societal change along with police intervention, Dame Vera replied: ‘It certainly isn’t just a job for the police but, look, the police do have a very key role here.’

She added: ‘Three-quarters of women over 16 have been harassed in a public place and don’t feel safe.

Detectives are urgently to appeal for information about a mystery man who was captured on CCTV in Pegler Square, south east London, on the night Sabina, 28, was attacked

Detectives are urgently to appeal for information about a mystery man who was captured on CCTV in Pegler Square, south east London, on the night Sabina, 28, was attacked 

‘They need to know that the police understand that and will use all the powers they have got to keep the streets safe.’

Hundreds of mourners, including Ms Nessa’s sister Jebina Yasmin Islam, attended an emotional candlelit vigil in Pegler Square, Kidbrooke, south-east London, where she had been heading to the pub on the evening she was killed.

A separate rally earlier in the evening at East London Mosque heard powerful testimony from other members of Ms Nessa’s family.

It comes as police are understood to believe the prime suspect in the Sabina Nessa murder is still at large after releasing two men they had arrested for the teacher’s killing.

Detectives are appealing for information about a man who was captured on CCTV in Pegler Square, south east London, on the night Sabina, 28, was attacked.

Two men who were arrested in connection with the alleged murder have been released under investigation, the Metropolitan Police confirmed.

Sabina left her home on Astell Road after arranging to meet a friend at The Depot bar in Pegler Square, Kidbrooke Village, south-east London, last Friday night but never made it. 

Police believe she was attacked in the busy Cator Park at around 8.30pm with her body being found by a member of the public almost 24 hours later near the OneSpace community centre.

No one reported Sabina missing after she failed to make the rendez-vous, said police, but her housemate has now spoken out on the horrifying ordeal and shared her unease.

She told the Guardian: ‘I never thought something like this could happen to her. I had been texting her and it’s not like her to not reply to my messages.

‘I don’t feel safe living here now.’ 

Scotland Yard appealed for information on the man shown, and a silver vehicle that was seen in the area, and asked the public to come forward with information

Scotland Yard appealed for information on the man shown, and a silver vehicle that was seen in the area, and asked the public to come forward with information 

Sister Jebina Nessa broke down in tears as she paid tribute to her sister Sabina, a 28-year-old primary school teacher who was murdered yards from her south east London home

Sister Jebina Nessa broke down in tears as she paid tribute to her sister Sabina, a 28-year-old primary school teacher who was murdered yards from her south east London home

Earlier, detectives had speculated whether the attack had been carried out by a stranger and were ‘keeping an open mind’ on the killer’s motive. 

On the same day Sabina was found, a man in his 40s and known to her was the first to be arrested on suspicion of her murder. He was later released under investigation.

A 38-year-old man who was arrested on Thursday at an address in Lewisham in connection with the murder of has also been released under investigation. 

The man in the CCTV footage, who is dressed in casual clothing and appears to be clutching an object in his right hand, was in the area where Nessa was found dead on the night she was attacked, according to police.

A 12-second clip shows a bearded and balding man wearing a black hooded coat and grey jeans looking over his shoulder and pulling at his hood as he walks down Pegler Square in Kidbrooke, south-east London. 

Detectives have also released an image, captured in the same area, of a silver car they believe the man has access to and appealed for anyone who recognised either to contact the force immediately. 

Detective chief inspector Neil John, from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, said ‘an extensive trawl’ of CCTV in the area continued and said information on the man’s identity and whereabouts could be ‘vital’ to the investigation. 

DCI John added: ‘We want to thank those who have shared our image appeal over the last 24 hours – it has gained a huge amount of coverage and we are extremely grateful for the public’s help.

‘We are now a week on from Sabina’s murder and while we have made good progress with our investigation we must keep this appeal for information going and encourage anyone who has any information to come forward.’ 

Anyone with information on the man’s identity is urged to call the incident room on 0208 721 4266 or Crimestoppers completely anonymously on 0800 555 111. 

Her sister Jebina (pictured) told the massive crowds: 'We have lost an amazing, caring, beautiful sister, who left this world far too early

Her sister Jebina (pictured) told the massive crowds: ‘We have lost an amazing, caring, beautiful sister, who left this world far too early 

People light candles during a vigil in memory of Sabina Nessa, a teacher who was murdered in south east London last Friday

People light candles during a vigil in memory of Sabina Nessa, a teacher who was murdered in south east London last Friday

Women hold candles at a vigil for killed primary school teacher Sabina Nessa in Pegler Square, Kidbrooke, in south east London

Women hold candles at a vigil for killed primary school teacher Sabina Nessa in Pegler Square, Kidbrooke, in south east London

CCTV believed to be showing the attack, first reported by the Daily Telegraph, sees an assailant apparently striking Sabina on the head with an object moments after she left her house. Detectives have declined to comment on these reports. 

Earlier, detectives had speculated whether the attack had been carried out by a stranger and were ‘keeping an open mind’ on the killer’s motive.  

Meanwhile, a vigil took place in Peglar Square at 7pm yesterday, near to where Sabina’s body was found. The vigil was organised by campaign group Reclaim the Streets, which said it is ‘angry and heartbroken’ about her death.

More than 500 campaigners and well-wishers gathered in Pegler Square for a vigil yesterday with supporters arriving on foot, by bicycle and on the train to attend the memorial at the heart at the south London housing estate. Many had brought their young children, others had brought their dogs. 

The vigil came as Kate Middleton said she was ‘saddened by the loss of another innocent young woman on our streets’. 

Dozens lit candles and placed bunches of flowers as they stood around a makeshift stage to honour Sabina. 

And Downing Street also joined the vigil, placing a lantern on the front step of the Prime Minister’s residence in memory of the killed primary school teacher.

Supporters clapped their hands in a show of solidarity while her friends thanked the hundreds who come together to remember the dynamic young teacher who was allegedly attacked and killed.   

Her sister Jebina Yasmin Islam told the crowd: ‘We have lost an amazing, caring, beautiful sister, who left this world far too early. 

Well-wishers and campaigners shed tears as they gathered for a vigil in memory of killed 28-year-old primary school teacher Sabina Nessa

Well-wishers and campaigners shed tears as they gathered for a vigil in memory of killed 28-year-old primary school teacher Sabina Nessa

People light candles during a vigil in memory of Sabina Nessa, a teacher who was murdered in south east London last Friday

People light candles during a vigil in memory of Sabina Nessa, a teacher who was murdered in south east London last Friday

Hundreds of mourners and well-wishers gathered in Pegler Square tonight in memory of Sabina Nessa, a 28-year-old primary school teacher killed last week

Hundreds of mourners and well-wishers gathered in Pegler Square tonight in memory of Sabina Nessa, a 28-year-old primary school teacher killed last week

Supporters clapped their hands in a show of solidarity and held burning candles while her friends thanked the hundreds who come together to remember the dynamic young teacher

Supporters clapped their hands in a show of solidarity and held burning candles while her friends thanked the hundreds who come together to remember the dynamic young teacher

Dozens of supporters flocked to Kidbrooke Village to honour the of the 28-year-old Primary school teacher who was murder a week ago today

Dozens of supporters flocked to Kidbrooke Village to honour the of the 28-year-old Primary school teacher who was murder a week ago today

Well-wishers laid flowers and lit candles around a placard calling to 'end male violence' at a vigil in memory of killed primary school teacher Sabina Nessa

Well-wishers laid flowers and lit candles around a placard calling to ‘end male violence’ at a vigil in memory of killed primary school teacher Sabina Nessa

‘Words cannot describe how we are feeling, this feels like we are stuck in a bad dream and can’t get out of it. Our world is shattered, we are simply lost for words.’ 

Scotland Yard wanted to avoid a repeat of the disastrous scene earlier this year during a vigil for murder victim Sarah Everard.

Met chiefs were accused of being heavy-handed with female demonstrators at the height of Covid-19 restrictions, when large public gatherings were banned. 

Kidbrooke Village residents Roxana Chelaru and husband Ionut told how they no longer feel safe in their home.

Roxana told MailOnline: ‘We live two minutes from where this poor young woman was murdered. We walk our dog in the park where she was killed. Sometimes I walk him there at night when it is dark.

‘We thought this was a nice place to live with other families. But now I don’t feel safe.

‘But tonight we want to show solidarity with this poor woman. This should not happen.’

Husband Ionut added: ‘It’s very sad. Now I am worried about my wife. Often she must walk back from the station alone. After what has happened we don’t want to live here anymore.’

Michael Stacey and wife Seychelle brought their six year old daughter Olivia to the vigil because Sabina Nessa was her teacher.

Mr Stacey, 42, a printer told MailOnline: ‘I don’t know what to say. It’s a terrible thing to happen. She was a lovely woman and a great teacher. Olivia loved her. So we’re here to pay our respects. It’s the least we can do.’  

Dozens lit candles and placed bunches of flowers as they stood around a makeshift stage to honour Sabina

Dozens lit candles and placed bunches of flowers as they stood around a makeshift stage to honour Sabina 

A woman holds her hands together in prayer as well-wishers gather in Pegler Square for a vigil in memory of killed primary school teacher Sabina Nessa

A woman holds her hands together in prayer as well-wishers gather in Pegler Square for a vigil in memory of killed primary school teacher Sabina Nessa

Supporters laid tributes to Sabina Nessa while her friends thanked the hundreds who come together to remember the dynamic young teacher who was attacked and killed

Supporters laid tributes to Sabina Nessa while her friends thanked the hundreds who come together to remember the dynamic young teacher who was attacked and killed

Hundreds of campaigners against violence gathered in Pegler Square with supporters arriving on foot, by bicycle and on the train to attend the memorial at the heart at the south London housing estate

Hundreds of campaigners against violence gathered in Pegler Square with supporters arriving on foot, by bicycle and on the train to attend the memorial at the heart at the south London housing estate

Supporters clapped their hands in a show of solidarity while her friends thanked the hundreds who come together to remember the teacher who was allegedly attacked and killed

 Supporters clapped their hands in a show of solidarity while her friends thanked the hundreds who come together to remember the teacher who was allegedly attacked and killed

Jamie Klingler, co-founder of the Reclaim The Streets pressure group, said Londoners had to come together to defend women against violence.

She told MailOnline: ‘This has been a terrible tragedy and everyone has been affected by this latest act of violence.

‘But the community has come together to stand up against violence to women.’  

Eltham MP Clive Efford told Ms Nessa’s family: ‘With everything that you are going through, these people are here for you.’

He told the crowd that the police ‘officers here are also parents and they are just as determined to see justice to Sabina’s family as anyone else, I have witnessed that this week.’

He also told those gathered that they will need to go back into their communities to make a difference in the way that women are treated, and the levels of respect given to everyone.

Meanwhile, police declined to comment on reports in the Daily Telegraph that Sabina was hit on the head yards from her home by an assailant wielding a weapon, then slung over his shoulder and dumped in a park in an attack caught on CCTV.

Footage showed Sabina being struck on the head by an assailant wielding a weapon just moments after she left her flat, before she was slung over his shoulder and dumped in a local park, it is claimed. 

Sabina’s family released a new statement reiterating their shock over her horrifying murder after the further details of the case were reported.  

Well-wishers laid flowers and lit candles around a placard calling to 'end male violence' at a vigil in memory of killed primary school teacher Sabina Nessa

Well-wishers laid flowers and lit candles around a placard calling to ‘end male violence’ at a vigil in memory of killed primary school teacher Sabina Nessa

Dozens lit candles and placed bunches of flowers as they stood around a makeshift stage to honour Sabina

Supporters clapped their hands in a show of solidarity while her friends thanked the hundreds who come together to remember the dynamic young teacher

Dozens lit candles and placed bunches of flowers as they stood around a makeshift stage to honour Sabina. Supporters clapped their hands in a show of solidarity while her friends thanked the hundreds who come together to remember the dynamic young teacher

Chief Superintendent Trevor Lawry by the floral tributes at Cator Park in Kidbrooke, south London, near to the scene where the body of Ms Nessa was found

Chief Superintendent Trevor Lawry by the floral tributes at Cator Park in Kidbrooke, south London, near to the scene where the body of Ms Nessa was found

The Depot bar in Pegler Square, where Ms Nessa was due to go on a first date last Friday, according to her friend

The Depot bar in Pegler Square, where Ms Nessa was due to go on a first date last Friday, according to her friend 

Sabina’s sister Jebina Yasmin Islam said: ‘We as a family are shocked of the murder of our sister, daughter and aunty to my girls.

‘There are no words to describe how we are feeling as a family at the moment. We did not expect that something like this would ever happen to us.

‘I urge everyone to walk on busy streets when walking home from work, school or a friend’s homes. Please keep safe. 

‘I ask you to pray for our sister and make dua (supplication) for her. May Allah grant her paradise.’ 

Assistant Commissioner Rolfe said the Metropolitan Police is not asking women to change their behaviour when going out at night in light of the murder of Sabina Nessa.  

Sabina was taking a five-minute walk to meet a friend at The Depot bar in Pegler Square near her home in Kidbrooke, south-east London, on September 17 at around 8.30pm when she was attacked. 

It is believed that she was walking through Cator Park towards The Depot bar on Pegler Square, Kidbrooke Village, where she planned to meet a man for a first date.

Sabina never arrived at the pub and was allegedly murdered as she walked through the park, according to police.

But reports have claimed that Sabina was just minutes from her home when she was attacked near the OneSpace Community Centre in Cator Park at around 8.30pm on Friday, September 17. 

A member of the public found her body close to the OneSpace community centre in Cator Park on Saturday at around 5.30pm.

A post-mortem examination was inconclusive and further tests will now be carried out to establish a cause of death.  

Anyone with information should call the incident room on 0208 721 4266 or Crimestoppers completely anonymously on 0800 555 111. 


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